One of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed was on our early morning game drive in Chobe National Park, Botswana. The sun was rising and we rounded a corner to see an elephant leaning his head against a tree, his posture slumped. A few feet away was the carcass of another elephant.
Our driver told us that the elephant was in mourning. When one of the herd dies, family members return to the spot to stop and remember. The elephant leaning against the tree was creating a memorial.
It was a sacred moment and one of the most beautiful I’ve seen. It reminded me that the entire earth is created in God’s image and that animals aren’t so different from humans.
It also reminded me of the importance in taking time to remember. In the busyness of life, I often forget to stop and remember – big moments, small moments, losses, and celebrations. They are all worthy of acknowledgement.
In her collection of essays, An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor talks about stopping to make altars – of taking the time to notice. She cites the ancient idea of building an altar to commemorate an event and challenges the reader to do something similar by stopping, looking, noticing, and remembering.
Especially when I get bogged down in daily routines, when I stop and mark those moments, I am able to step back and see the strands of a bigger picture. Because it’s easy to forget, I’ve started a list in my journal – nothing in detail, just notes jotted down of moments I want to remember. I hope, when I look back, it will help me create an altar to my journey.
How do you remember important events? Do you create altars – through writing, painting, or other creative ways?